Rabid bats haunt Lake Merced

A fifth rabid bat found near Lake Merced this year has prompted health officials to warn the public to stay away from bats around the popular recreation area.

A bat found dead in a street Aug. 16 in the Lake Merced Hill development tested positive for rabies, as did four other bats collected near Lake Merced since April. The Chron reports one rabid bat was found in a private residence.

About one in 10 of the 133 bats collected in San Francisco since 2009 has tested positive for rabies.

Thankfully the bats seem disinterested in spreading their disease to either human or animal. Not a single case of rabies in a dog or cat has been recorded in San Francisco in more than 60 years.

One human case in 1987 was found to have been contracted outside the United States. Only one to two cases of rabies each year are reported nationally to the Centers for Disease Control.

Rabies can be spread from the smallest of bites or scratches, though, so report any physical contact with a bat to one of the tireless health professionals who swarm over you and your pet’s every need. Or, just call your vet or doctor.

Approaching an injured or sick wild animal is never a good idea, which of course doesn’t stop people from doing it. If you encounter a bat or bat carcass, call San Francisco Animal Control at 415-554-9400.